COVID-19 Business Update – JobKeeper, Grants and Networking
Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. We hope you and your family are safe and doing well. Read on for this week’s update.
JobKeeper Changes Coming in September
This week the PM announced the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme will be extended from September through to March next year, with some changes. This comes as businesses continue to struggle and as an increase in infections has been reported in the southeast.
The JobKeeper subsidy has been extended to 28th March 2021. However, there are some changes that you should know about. Please be aware there are still plenty of “unknowns” surrounding the next steps but we will update you as we get more details.
The next phase of JobKeeper will start at the end of September at a reduced rate of $1200 per fortnight for full-time workers and those working for more than 20 hours per week, from $1500 per fortnight previously. Meanwhile, those working for less than 20 hours a week will receive $750 per fortnight.
From 4th January 2021 the payments will further decrease to $1000 per fortnight for full-time workers, and to $650 per fortnight for those working less than 20 hours per week.
New Eligibility Test
From October, the payment will be subject to a new eligibility test which assesses whether the business recovered in the last 6 months.
Reassessments in October and January
In early October, businesses will need to prove they’re in financial distress (showing a decline of at least 30%) in the June 2020 quarter in order to be eligible for the October – December scheme. This will need to be proven again in early January based on September quarter figures.
It is important to note that these changes are yet to be legislated, which means that they are subject to change. As the finer details become available, we will pass them on. If you need help in evaluating the impact of these changes to your current situation, feel free to contact us for guidance.
Government-backed COVID-19 Loans Extended
The government is extending the small business COVID-19 loans scheme until June 2021. The second phase will kick off on October 1 with the following changes:
- Loans will be provided for purposes other than working capital;
- Secured loans (i.e. where collateral is presented) will be permitted in addition to unsecured loans;
- The maximum loan size will increase four-fold to $1 million, up from $250,000 per borrower;
- The maximum loan term will increase to five years, up from three years; and
- Lenders will have additional discretion to offer repayment holidays.
If you need help to avail these loans or you want to find out if you are eligible, don’t hesitate to drop us a message.
Growing Your Network When There are No Networking Events
As a business owner, you may have been part of the typical ways of networking like attending conferences and business dinners. However, with so much of the world in lockdown at the moment, growing your professional connections the traditional way may nto be possible.
While you can build relationships virtually by engaging on LinkedIn and other social media platforms, this insightful Harvard Business Review article shares other strategies to consider including:
- Turning canceled conferences into private networking opportunities.
- Rethinking geographic boundaries when creating guest lists for virtual cocktail gatherings.
- Inviting senior leaders to online working group meetings.
Aside from virtual conferences, sharing your expertise, whether by volunteering, creating online content or courses, or contributing to online communities, can introduce you to new people who need what you offer. If you want to talk about your specific situation and rethink your business strategy, please get in touch with us and we’ll help you work out a plan.
Beware of COVID-19 Scams
Scammers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to con people into giving their money or confidential personal information. Here are some of the COVID-19 scams to look out for:
- Scams offering COVID-19 testing, vaccines, or a cure
- Fake charities
- “Person in need” scams
- Scams targeting Social Security benefits
While the reason behind the fraud is new, the tactics are familiar. The best defence is to say No if anyone contacts you asking for your personal information like, bank account or credit card details, or driver’s licence number; someone you don’t know requests money through a payment app or pre-paid gift cards; someone you don’t know sends you a cheque for some reason and asks you to send a portion back; or simply your gut tells you that it is too good to be true or it doesn’t feel right.
It pays to be wary in these situations so please be on the lookout for these scams.
Australian Team Develops Blood Test to Detect COVID-19 in 20 Minutes
A research team led by BioPRIA and Monash University’s chemical engineering department, including researchers from ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent BioNano Science and Technology has successfully developed a blood test that can detect COVID-19 in 20 minutes.
This test will allow medical practitioners to analyse 200-700 blood samples in an hour. Furthermore, it can also aid high-risk countries in contact tracing, as well as vaccine efficacy confirmation during clinical trials and vaccine distribution.
State grants and support programs
Along with national assistance, each state and territory has announced various grants and assistance packages which you may be eligible for. You can find a roundup of these grants on the Government’s Business website. Alternatively, you can also contact us so we can discuss which options are most suitable for your business.
Boosting Your Digital Capabilities
Small businesses across Australia can access individual support to grow their digital capabilities through the Australian Small Business Advisory Services Digital Solutions. This program offers small businesses with fewer than 20 full-time employees and sole traders with high quality advice on a range of digital solutions to meet their business needs at a subsidised rate. More information can be found here.
We’ll keep you updated if as we get more news and updates. Now is the time to prepare a budget and cashflow forecast so you’re ready and well prepared for the coming months.